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Friday, December 30, 2011

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #1, My Fake Wall

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

Update: this version of MyFakeWall is no longer working as of August 2013. 

Last summer I shared with you a Google Docs template for creating fake Facebook profiles. That template was designed by Derrick Waddell for his students to use to create Facebook profiles for historical figures. Today, I discovered My Fake Wall which is a tool for creating a fake Facebook wall for a fictitious or historical character.  To create a Fake Wall you do need to register for a My Fake Wall account. Then you can upload images, write wall posts, even create "likes" and comments on fake posts. Click here to see the beginning of the Fake Wall I created for my dog.

Update: A lot of people have asked how to add images or posts to My Fake Wall so I've included a screenshot to accompany the instructions provided by My Fake Wall.


Applications for Education
Creating a fake Facebook page using My Fake Wall could be a fun way for students to publish biographical information about historical figures. Students could also use My Fake Wall to create fake Facebook pages about characters in the novels they read. One of my former colleagues had students do just that with the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #2, 11 Mathematics Resources

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year. 

To start off the new year, each day this week I'll be posting a list of eleven resources to try in a particular content area. Today's list is for mathematics teachers, tomorrow's list will be for science teachers.

Brain Nook is a virtual world in which students can practice their mathematics and English skills. Brain Nook provides students with a series of scenarios that they have to resolve by answering mathematics and language arts questions. The first scenario presented to me when I tried out Brain Nook required me to earn coins to buy materials for a vehicle that I would then use to explore one of the virtual worlds. I could earn coins by answering questions correctly. Brain Nook presents students with questions based on their skill levels which is determined by a quick pre-assessment and adjusted as they progress through Brain Nook's virtual worlds. 

Learn Your Tables is a neat little site for students to use to learn and develop multiplication skills. The site offers two basic games on two different levels. The most basic game is a simple drag and drop activity in which students match equations to their correct answers. The more "advanced" game has students enter the correct answer to a multiplication question. The easier of the two levels only contains problems from one multiplication table while the more difficult level contains problems from multiple multiplication tables.

Ten Marks, an online mathematics tutoring service, offers a free program for teachers. Ten Marks for educators is designed to be a supplement to classroom instruction, not a replacement for it.
Ten Marks provides educators with an online forum in which they can assign mathematics practice problems to students and track their students' progress. If a student gets stuck on a problem he or she can open a tutorial to help him or her through the problem. Ten Marks provides teachers with the option to CC parents on the assignments sent to students. The online curriculum provided by Ten Marks can be aligned to the state standards a teacher chooses.

Yummy Math is a website designed for the purpose of sharing mathematics problems and scenarios based on things happening in the world today. For example, the activity for December 4th was based on Lebron James's return to Cleveland. Yummy Math lists activities chronologically as well as by mathematics subject area. Two mathematics teachers, Brian Marks and Leslie Lewis, developed Yummy Math and welcome suggestions from other mathematics teachers. 

Web2.0calc is a free online scientific calculator. While it won't replace the TI-84 Plus, it can do what your average high school student needs it to do. The best part is, you don't have to use it on the Web2.0calc site because they offer three widgets that you can use to embed the calculator into your own blog or website.
Math Open Reference is a free online reference for geometry teachers and students. Math Open Reference features animated and interactive drawings to demonstrate geometry terms and concepts. The table of contents on Math Open Reference is divided into four basic categories; plane geometry, coordinate geometry, solid geometry, and function explorer tools. Click on any subject in the first three categories to find definitions, examples, and interactive drawings. In the function explorer category users can select linear functions, quadratic functions, or cubic functions to explore how changes in variables affect the graphed output.

When it comes to creative uses of Google tools, Tom Barrett is certainly a leader that we can all learn from. A great example of this can be found in Tom's Math Maps. Math Maps are Google Maps on which Tom and others have created placemarks which when clicked reveal mathematics questions for students to answer based on the maps. There are questions available for every elementary school grade level. The placemarks are color-coded to indicate the level of the questions. Blue = Kindergarten, Red = 1st grade, Green = 2nd grade, Light Blue = 3rd grade, Yellow = 4th grade, Purple = 5th grade. Visit Tom Barrett's Math Maps page to view the existing Math Maps and read about how to contribute to the existing Math Maps.

Math Live is a neat mathematics website developed by Learn Alberta. Math Live presents students with animated stories that teach mathematics lessons. In all there are twenty-three lessons for elementary school and middle school students. The lessons are divided into four categories; Number, Patterns and Relations, Shape and Space, Statistics and Probability. Each animated lesson is accompanied by a mathematics worksheet that students complete either while watching the lesson or after viewing the lesson. Each lesson is divided into sections and students can advance or rewind as needed.

Conceptua Math is a provider of interactive visual mathematics lessons. Conceptua Math's primary focus is on the development of tools to aid teachers in the instruction of lessons on fractions. Conceptua Math's offerings are a mix of free and premium (paid) tools. There are a total of fifteen free interactive tools for teachers and students. Each of the free tools has an introductory video and a sample lesson plan.

If you've seen Dan Meyer's TED Talk, Math Class Needs a Makeover, you already know that he's an awesome educator. If you haven't seen his talk, go watch it now then come back to this post. This past summer Dan Meyer published his entire 38 week Algebra curriculum complete with slides, handouts, and just about everything you need in order to deliver the lessons. You can download each week individually or download the entire collection as one file. Dan Meyer also has his entire 38 week Geometry curriculum available for free. Again, you can download each week individually or download the entire collection as one file.

Plus Magazine is a free online publication dedicated to introducing readers to practical applications of mathematics. Plus Magazine strives to reach that goal through the publication of mathematics-related news articles, podcasts, and mathematics puzzles designed around "real-life" scenarios.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #3, 47 Alternatives to YouTube

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year. 

Some excellent educational content can be found on YouTube. However, many teachers cannot access YouTube in their classrooms. That is why I originally wrote what became one of the most popular posts to ever appear on Free Technology for Teachers, 30+ Alternatives to YouTube. That post is now fourteen months old and I've come across more alternatives in that time. Also in that time span some of the resources on the list have shut down. So it's time to update the list.

1. School Tube is a website dedicated to the sharing of videos created by students and teachers. School Tube allows teachers and schools to create their own channels for sharing their students' works. School Tube also provides excellent how-to resources, copyright-friendly media, and lesson plans for using video in the classroom.

2. Teacher Tube has been around for a while now, but I still run into teachers who have not heard of it. Teacher Tube provides user generated videos for teachers by teachers. Many of the videos on Teacher Tube have teachers sharing lesson plans in action. Some videos on Teacher Tube are simply inspirational. And other videos don't have teachers or students in them, but contain educational lessons none the less.

3. Teachers.tv is a UK- based website of videos for teachers and about teaching. Teachers.tv provides hundreds of videos available for free download. On Teachers.tv there are videos for all grade levels and content areas. Teachers.tv also has videos about teaching methods and practices.

4. Next Vista is a nonprofit, advertising-free video sharing site run by Google Certified Teacher Rushton Hurley. Next Vista has three video categories. The Light Bulbs category is for videos that teach you how to do something and or provides an explanation of a topic. The Global Views video category contains videos created to promote understanding of cultures around the world. The Seeing Service video category highlights the work of people who are working to make a difference in the lives of others. Watch this interview I did with Rushton to learn more about Next Vista.

5. Academic Earth is a video depot for individual lectures and entire courses from some of the top universities in the United States. Visitors to Academic Earth will find lectures and courses from Yale, MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.

6. Snag Films and its companion site Snag Learning are great places to watch full length documentaries from producers like National Geographic for free. Snag Learning provides a catalog of educational films that are accompanied by classroom discussion questions.

Read the rest of the list here.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #4, 10 Comic & Cartoon Creators

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

Creating cartoons and comic strips can be a good way to get reluctant writers writing. While creating comics you and your students can work through the elements of fiction in a context that is fun and familiar to them.

Witty Comics provides a simple platform that students can use to create two character dialogues. To use Witty Comics students just need to select the pre-drawn background scenes and the pre-drawn characters they want to feature in their comics. Writing the dialogues is the creative element that is left to the students.

Artisan Cam is more than just a comic creator, it is a comprehensive collection of online art activities. On Artisan Cam students can use the Super Action Comic Maker to build a six frame comic. The Super Action Comic Maker has a drag and drop interface which students use to select a background and character for their comics.

The Super Hero Squad invites kids to create their own super hero comic strips and comic books. The Super Hero Squad provides users with templates for comic strips and comic books. Users select the backgrounds, characters, and special effects from the provided menus. Arranging each scene and re-size the characters is an easy drag and drop process. After creating their scenes, users can add dialogue boxes to their comics. Completed comic strips and comic books can be downloaded and printed. 
Pixton is a drag-and-drop cartoon creation tool which allows anyone regardless of artistic ability to create comics. Users can join the Pixton community to share their creations with other. In addition to the free individual accounts Pixton offers Pixton for Schools (not free) which allows teachers to create private rooms in which only their students can create and share comics. To learn more about Pixton, watch this short video.

Strip Generator allows anyone, even people who claim they can't draw, to create a good-looking black and white comic strip. To create a comic strip all you need to do is select the number of frames you want then drag characters and objects into those frames. The menus for characters and objects are fairly extensive. Once you've selected a character or object you can adjust the size to fit your scene. Adding text is a simple matter of selecting a speech bubble and typing text. When you're happy with your comic strip you can save it online, print it, or embed it into your blog.

PikiKids provides a variety of layouts to which students can upload images then edit the images or add text bubbles and titles. The comics that students create can be embedded into a blog or website as well as be shared via email. PikiKids is free to use, but it is a for profit website as it offers options for buying tee-shirts or mugs with user-created comics.

Write Comics is a free, simple tool for creating comic strips. Write Comics doesn't require any registration to use. In fact, registration is not even an option. To create a comic on Write Comics just select a background from the menu, choose some characters, and add some speech bubbles. You can continue adding frames until you've completed your story. Write Comics is quite easy to use, but there is one short-coming and that is the only way you can save your work is to save it to your local hard drive.

Make Beliefs is a free comic strip creation tool that provides students with a variety of templates, characters, and prompts for building their own comic strips. Make Beliefs provides students with a pre-drawn characters and dialogue boxes which they can insert into each box of their comic strip. The editing options allow users the flexibility to alter the size of each character and dialogue bubble, bring elements forward within each box, and alter the sequence of each box in the comic strip. Students that have trouble starting a story can access writing prompts through make beliefs. Most impressively, Make Beliefs allows users to write their comic strip's dialogue in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, or Latin.

Be Funky is a simple tool for turning digital photographs into digital comics. The image you see to the left is a cartoonized image of me based on a photograph I took with my webcam. Be Funky can be used for simple one frame images or be used to create an entire strip of cartoonized images with inserted text.

Chogger is a free comic strip creation tool offering a good selection of editing tools. Chogger allows you to draw images from scratch or use your existing images. You can even connect your webcam to Chogger to capture pictures for use in your comic strips. Once you've added images to your comic strip, you can add effects such as fading and outlining. Chogger also allows you to customize the look of each frame in your comic strip. Comic strips created in Chogger can have as few as three frames or as many as twelve or more frames.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
20 Ways to Use Comics in Your Classroom
More than 100 Editorial Cartoon Lesson Plans
Pictures and Cartoons from PRI's The World

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #5, Super Book of Web Tools

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

There are many teachers who want to start using technology in their classrooms, but just aren't sure where to start. That's why I got together ten prominent ed tech bloggers, teachers, and school administrators to create The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators. In this book there introductions to more than six dozen web tools for K-12 teachers. Additionally, you will find sections devoted to using Skype with students, ESL/ELL, blogging in elementary schools, social media for educators, teaching online, and using technology in alternative education settings.

Here's the list of contributors to The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators:
George Couros, Patrick Larkin, Kelly Tenkely, Adam Bellow, Silvia Tolisano, Steven Anderson, Cory Plough, Beth Still, Larry Ferlazzo, Lee Kolbert, and Richard Byrne. If you like what you read, please visit the contributors' blogs and let them know.


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